Terry Ilous is a man of many hats. He is the lead singer of Great White, one of the founding members of XYZ, and a solo artist as well as husband and dad. It is hard to think that any one person can successfully accomplish all of this but Terry not only does, but he does it well. He took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with me by phone about his latest project is Gypsy Dreams. It is a collection of covers done acoustically with a unique flair. The songs have a Spanish vibe to them. The songs range from Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” to Peter Gabriel’s “Your Love.”
“I like different styles of music. I’m not like some artist who just stick to one genre of music, like heavy metal and that’s all they can listen to. Coming from Europe we are exposed to different things on the radio from jazz to rock to heavy metal to classical. The radio over there plays a lot of eclectic music. They’re not afraid to go from one style to another. So, I was exposed to all kinds of music and I’m a big fan of Don Henley and love his music. I’m a big fan of Black Sabbath. I’m also a big fan of Zeppelin. I’m a big fan of Peter Gabriel. So, for me it was no brainer. I’m just going to do what I like.”
One of most iconic songs that is featured on the album is Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” Terry was very candid about meeting Ronnie Dio; “Ronnie was my one of my all-time favorite singers. I loved his voice and I had the pleasure of meeting Ronnie when I first came to Los Angeles. I was invited to a party and he was there and I liked him right away because he was short. I am short too, so we hit off.”
I asked Terry about the idea of covering someone else’s work. We talked about what he thought the artist would think of his rendition of their songs.
“I’m going to send some of the tracks to the artists that I know like Richie Blackmore, because we did Rainbow’s “Kill the King.” I want to send it to him just to see his reaction. I think it is as you said, I paid homage and I was very humble. I didn’t try to say my version is better than the original at all. My version is different. That’s all. You can never beat the original and never beat the original artist. All we can do is do something different and pay respect and show respect to the artist in the song by giving it your own choice. If you think about it, check this out. Remember at Woodstock when Joe Cocker came up with this version “With a little help” by The Beatles? For the longest time when I was a kid I didn’t even know that that song wasn’t from him. I always thought what a great song but when I listened to the original version of it, I was like, I like Joe Cocker’s version better.”
As we progressed in the interview I knew that there had to have been many more songs that could have been recorded, but that for one reason or another didn’t make it on the album. Knowing that Terry is a huge fan of Dio, I wondered if there were more Dio songs that might pop up on another album or maybe a hidden track on the album.
“Yes, there are some songs. For example, we came up with “Rainbow in the Dark” and my guitar player came up with the arrangement. He said how about that one? I said oh my god this is great. But we already have two Dio songs so I said three would be too much, but all I can tell you is that version he did is phenomenal because it’s actually very Cuban. The way he played it is Cuban Santana doing “Rainbow in the Dark” and it’s just phenomenal. Seriously it is amazing. But we said if we do another album this one is ready to go, it’s already been recorded. All I have to do is record the voice, that’s all. There is also a different Zeppelin track I’d like to do. Definitely a couple of Deep Purple tracks I’d like to add. “
The album is going to be released soon so one would think that there would be a tour to follow. But wait, Terry is the singer of Great White too. So how would he work all of this into his schedule? Terry seems to find a way to do it. This guy must never sleep.
“Yes, we are actually. I have to see with my Great White schedule. It’s a busy schedule this year and next year. But in between tour dates, yes, I will be doing events. I will be doing private parties. I’ll be doing festivals. Most likely select dates because I am so busy with Great White. My priority is Great White but this side project; it’s a side project that actually getting a lot of interesting response so I’m blessed and thankful.”
Since he brought up Great White I felt like it was a perfect time to ask him how things were going in Great White. They are currently on a US tour and that would be enough for one person. But we are not just talking about any “one person,” we are talking about Terry Ilous.
“It’s fantastic. We have a new album coming out June 1st produced by Michael Wagner. And it’s a really bluesy album. Bluesy and heavy. What I mean by heavy, I don’t mean heavy metal. I mean it’s heavy blues. I mean the way a Great White used to be a long time ago. But yet with something, a bit more modern. So, I think and I hope that the fans will like it. It’s very much old Great White, put it that way. Good old Great White.”
By the end of the interview, I was worn out just talking about everything Terry does in his life. This didn’t even include Terry the husband and Terry the dad. I started to wonder if the world spun differently for Terry, but then I realized he has a lot of passion for what he does. Terry has seen the highs and lows of being in the music industry and does not take his responsibilities lightly. That coupled with his great drive to be the best at what he does gives him the ability to achieve greatness every day.